2014 – the year in books

I didn’t read much in 2014, partly due to my excessive biking, but here is the annual summary.

P1120709

Fiction

Alberto Moravia: Agostino (1942)

The Number One of the last years! The ultimate novella (only 150 pages) about not being a child anymore while still not having become a man – in other words: about being a boy. A 13-year-old boy. Moravia hereby receives a place in my All Time Top Ten Pantheon, along with novelists such as Gombrowicz, Mann, Mishima. I recommend it to you, Niclas.

Thomas Engström: Väster om friheten (2013)

Brilliant and well written thriller set in Berlin, in fact, right in my kiez. Cold war relics meet current events such as a barely camouflaged leaks organization, “Hydraleaks”, and its barely camouflaged front man “Lucien”. Every Swede who wants some quality crime should read. This is the first part of a trilogy. It is apparently being translated to other languages right now.

Haruki Murakami: The Elephant Vanishes (1993)

A collection of short stories. Entertaining, sort of. Not much more.

A.M. Homes: The End of Alice (1996)

A classic biographical fiction about a murderer who is in prison since 23 years, and starts corresponding with a girl who reminds him of his victim (and himself) and thus makes him remember things. Took five years for the author to write, I think she met the narrator. A very dark book, at times convincing and fascinating, but it failed to convince me all the way.

Ronald Firbank: Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli (1926)

Terrible from beginning to end. How come you liked it, Erik? Of course, reading the synopsis afterwards, I realize I didn’t get either the beginning or the end.

Non-fiction

Petter Wallenberg: Historien om Leila K (2013)

My friend Petter’s biography about Swedish 1990s pop star Leila K. Extremely fascinating and very touching. I’ve been a part of Petter’s work with this book since 2007, so it’s great to finally see it in print. Who should read? Every Swedish person born in the 1970s.

Hans Blüher: Die deutsche Wandervogelbewegung als erotisches Phänomen (1912)

In the beginning of the 20th century, the new German boy scout movement (“Wandervögel”) was criticized of inhabiting homosexuals (or pederasts), who could prey on the boys. In his classic pamphlet from 1912 (I read the sixth edition from 1922), Blüher shows that it was homosexuals (or pederasts) who founded the scout movement and that they are the best scout leaders. He also shows that those scout leaders who condemned the homosexuals among them the most, and harder than the public did, were themselves homosexual. Touché! The book is relevant for our current society and is a must read for people who want to understand the mechanisms of overcompensation.

Charles Duhigg: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2012)

Very needed selfhelp, part 1. Extremely interesting about how our brains work and can be easily fooled by that thing called habit. I lost my annotations when my reading device was stolen – a good reason to reread it.

Jocelyn K. Gley (ed.): Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (2013)

Very needed selfhelp, part 2. Short texts, almost all of them relevant. Freelancers struggling with self-discipline should read.

Michael Holzwarth: Logik und Ideologie des Smartphones (2014)

A wonderfully fresh and academic look at our “Übertritt in den digitalen Funkraum”. Self-published social criticism at its best!

James J. O’Meara: The Homo and the Negro. Masculinist Meditations on Politics and Popular Culture (2012)

The result of a book swap between authors. Unfortunately I didn’t like it at all.

P1130225

Manga

Akira Yomoyama: 自転車男子に恋をした③ (2014)

The fourth installment of my favorite road bike doujinshi (self-published manga).

Akira Yomoyama: 自転車男子に恋をした④ (2014)

And the fifth, always a pleasure to read when I get them delivered from Japan!

Katsuhiro Otomo: Akira, Volume 1 (1982)

The most classic of all manga. I read it in English.

Maki Usami: ココロボタン (2009)

A mainstream romance manga for girls. Quite entertaining.

Shigenobu Matsumoto: デュエルマスターズ・FIGHTING EDGE, vol 5 (2006)

A mainstream action manga for boys. Quite entertaining.

Makoto Yoshimoto: ウソツキゴクオー 1 (2011)

Another mainstream manga for elementary school boys, where the main character Gokuoh-kun solves petty crimes that his classmates commit. Also quite entertaining.

Web design

David Sawyer McFarland: CSS3 – The Missing Manual, 3rd edition (2013)

So I finally decided to learn CSS3 from the ground. Wonderfully pedagogical. Love this book.

Matthew MacDonald: HTML5 – The Missing Manual, 2nd edition (2014)

This one started with a good overview of HTML5, but quickly diverged into murky Javascript territory.

I’ve listed all books I’ve read since 1997 on this page – it does not include study books such as the programming titles above though.

Några ord om en flicksexskandal

pixiv_47847105

Illustration av ぐりえるも, från just nu pågående mangamässan Comiket 87.

Eller ja, sex och sex. Men for the record då:

Två män har fått flickor att visa upp sig framför datorn. Fyrtiotalet flickor. Sjuhundra brott. Varje flicka har alltså visat upp sig i snitt 17,5 gånger.

För detta dömdes männen för fem år respektive två år och nio månaders fängelse.

Det låter högt. I Sverige. Och det är därför jag skriver om detta, för att notera en förändring i samhället medan den sker. Som i den här pojksexskandalen. Men där förekom ju åtminstone fysiskt sex.

Tjejerna har alltså visat upp sig regelbundet. Varför? Männen har kanske hotat dem? Fått dem att ställa upp en gång och sedan sagt att om de inte gör det igen ska de sprida bilderna från första tillfället? Kanske gått ännu längre och hotat med att döda dem eller deras familj? Det kan man ju förstå att skulle vara fruktansvärt. En riktig mardröm.

Men nej:

Männen har utgett sig för att vara jämnåriga pojkar och använt flera olika identiteter. De har smickrat och uppvaktat flickorna och på så sätt fått dem att klä av sig, posera och även utföra sexuella handlingar inför männen.

Det verkar dessutom som att tjejerna har skinn på näsan och inte velat samarbeta med rättsväsendet. Åklagare Charlotta Tanner:

Men flickorna berättar inte så mycket. De vill nog inte riktigt kännas vid vad som hänt, och de vill nog inte att föräldrar och vänner ska veta vad de skickat till männen.

Säger det inte något om vårt eget samhälles version av hederstänkande att flickorna förutsätts ha utsatts för hemska brott när det enda de gjort är att ha smekt sig själva framför datorn? Dvs de har varit aktiva – något vi ofta förknippar med och förväntar oss av pojkar – och experimenterat med sex, och rent symboliskt är det detta som straffas genom att göras till något oerhört allvarligt. Det är talande att tjejerna själva inte vill prata om det. Men oavsett vad de själva tycker är de offer, för deras heder har skadats.

Nå, jag avslutar här. Jag har inte läst domen och jag kan inte säga att jag har något till övers för männen. Men är det verkligen rimligt att de suttit häktade sedan november 2013 (!) och dömts till så långa fängelsestraff? I Sverige?

(Och som en liten komisk parentes – för svensk lagstiftning är ju komisk: Om männen dömts för barnporrbrott, borde inte i logikens namn tjejerna också dömas för det? Det är ju de som producerat den, enligt så som svensk lagstiftning är utformad. Jag vet, jag vet, som om logik skulle vara relevant!)

2014 – the year in anime

Series

Ashita no Joe 2, episode 24

Ashita no Joe 2, episode 24

Ashita no Joe 2 (1980-1981, 47 episodes)

So my favorite anime of all times, about the young boxer Joe, came to an end. I watched it for over 2 years, patiently waiting a month or two for each new subbed episode. Yes, it’s my favorite anime, but it’s also my favorite expression of art of any genre that I’ve experienced in the last years. People who dismiss anime for whatever childish reason don’t know what they’re missing.

Hunter x Hunter (2011-2014, 148 episodes)

The ultimate adventure anime, which I started watching after having bought the figure. It’s the longest series I’ve ever watched, and I must say it was brilliant from beginning to end, with some dips of course. Again, the deepness that emerges in seemingly superficial entertainment is amazing.

Yowamushi Pedal (2013-2014, 38 episodes)

The road bike manga, which I incidentally found in an Ueno bookshop in January 2013, turned into an anime in October 2013 – when I lived in Japan. But since I didn’t have a TV, I didn’t start watch it until I came home. It’s a very entertaining anime and the bike races are wonderfully rendered.

Ginga e Kickoff!! (2012-2013, 39 episodes)

During the Fifa World Cup I watched this upbeat anime about a gang of 11 and 12 year olds playing football (soccer) together. Very fun and uplifting.

Shinjuku station plastered with Free! billboards in December 2013.

Shinjuku station plastered with Free! billboards in December 2013.

Free! (2013, 12 episodes)

It’s one thing that sports anime featuring male actors become popular among girls who fantasize about what they do together – that’s the case with both Yowamushi Pedal and Kuroko no Basket. But swimming anime Free! made that funny bonus the main idea. I didn’t like, though the concept of women objectifying the hunks in the anime and putting words in their mouths that no guy would say is quite fun. Like the straight women’s version of the straight guys’ “lesbian porn”.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! (2013, 12 episodes)

It’s supposed to be a comedy about a girl who constantly fails at being popular in school, but I found the whole thing pretty depressing.

Also began watching Kuroko 2, Yowamushi Pedal 2 (which is still ongoing), Welcome to the NHK (very good so far, look forward to the other half of it), and Saint Seiya. Continued watching some Sailor Moon R and Ranma ½, rewatched Puni Puni Poemii. Dropped Code:Breaker and some others.

Movies

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

A very sweet movie about three homeless people who find an infant in a pile of trash on the street, and set out to find its parents. A bit like Karl-Bertil Jonsson in style, but much better than that moral lecture of course.

Perfect Blue (1998)

By the same director as Tokyo Godfathers: Satoshi Kon. This one about an singing idol girl who switches career to acting and things go wrong. Very dreamlike, strange and at times extremely violent – one scene still sticks in my mind (unfortunately). Mr Kon apparently died in cancer in 2010, only aged 46.

Garden of Words (2013)

A slow-tuned love story, extremely beautifully made.

Akira (1988)

I watched this classic movie after having read the first volume of the manga. Impressive.

 

2014 – the year in biking

On top of Müggelberg, which with its 115 meters is Berlin's highest mountain. Blackberry photo by Simon - the only photo I have from the whole biking summer!

On top of Müggelberg, which with its 115 meters is Berlin’s highest mountain. Blackberry photo by Simon – the only photo I have from the whole biking summer!

It was the best bike year ever, with 6,463 biked kilometers, most of them on Tempelhof, and many of them with Simon and sometimes other new biking friends. Here is the Strava calendar for 2014:

strava_2014

We also made many rounds in Brandenburg. Here is my heatmap from Veloviewer (a site that uses the Strava data but provides much more detailed and modifiable visualizations), it covers everywhere I’ve been with my road bike from when I bought it three years ago:

veloviewer_heatmap_2014

Actually, the map doesn’t say that much, since I’ve mostly biked the same tracks over and over.

I bought my road bike late 2011 and thought I biked a lot in both 2012 and 2013, but this graph in Veloviewer shows how much more I biked in 2014, and also that I started the season earlier and ended it later:

veloviewer_2011-2014

The highlights:

  • Many “Laktatrunden” (90 km) to Königs Wusterhausen with Simon, sometimes combined with some Tempelhof rounds afterwards to reach the monthly Strava “Gran Fondo” challenge of a 130 km ride or a “century” ride of 160 km (171 km in my case).
  • Our first group ride with three people from a mailing list, so we were five altogether and could take turn drafting each other really fast. This was also to Königs Wusterhausen and back over Großen Müggelberg, where Simon crashed on the way down at 57,5 km/h.
  • My first group ride with eight participants – to Rauener Berg and then back over Müggelberg again. Long (120 km), fast, and I was ill prepared and hungover – but kept up until the end and had a lot of fun. Again, these were people from the list. It’s full of hobby cyclists who don’t belong to any club but who enjoy riding together.
  • Reaching 50 km/h average speed on the runways on Tempelhof, thus making it into the top 10 of those segments on Strava.

Veloviewer provides a 3D rendering of every ride – this is what the Laktatrunde looks like, very flat except for Müggelberg (the many rounds up left is Tempelhof):

r3915542605

Veloviewer is quite fun. I haven’t used it a lot, but paid for a membership anyway because I want to support the programmer who on his spare time decided to build all these amazing features that can be extracted from the Strava data. He has come up with a Veloviewer score based on your placement in your top 25 % segments. Here is mine for 2014:

veloviewer_score_28_dec_2014

I’m really happy I’ve found biking as a hobby/sport – it fits me perfectly and I can honestly say I love it, or else it wouldn’t be possible for me to spend so many hours and days on the saddle. Actually I was quite surprised that I biked so much this summer and I’m not sure I will keep it up next year, but I hope so.

I sometimes refer to Tempelhof as “my Berghain” to a friend who spends an equal amount of time at that club – and then he seems to get it. It’s actually not a bad comparison. I’ve always had a lot of excess energy that must be dealt with, and clubs were good for that. But as I’m getting older, clubbing becomes less and less of an option (also, less and less fun), especially since I don’t take drugs. The hangovers are getting longer and the insane hours that Berlin clubbing is done fucks up your sleeping rhythm.

Cycling is the perfect substitute – that it makes you fit is just a fun bonus. A friend measured my resting pulse last weekend, and it was only 54, which apparently places me in the “well-trained male athlete” section of a pulse chart, above “very good”. And this was in the evening, while I was drinking wine! I hope my health won’t deteriorate totally until the next season begins.

The other day I ordered lots of bike apparel on Amazon. I’m actually very modest when it comes to clothes, and bike clothes are usually very expensive (because as they say: road bikes is the new golf). In fact, the jersey and pants I bought for my bike tour in 2002 are still in use! So in 2014 I didn’t spend anything on bike apparel. I have three sets, my favorite being the Cannondale team bib + jersey I wear on the picture at the top, ordered from China in 2013 for a total of ca 50 euro including the German taxes I had to pay on delivery.

I was close to buying a cyclocross bike for winter use, but instead just stopped biking when it got too cold. Instead I hope I can start biking again on my road bike in February or March – the apparel I bought included shoe covers and a pullover. My Cannondale will probably need a makeover though, well used as it is by now. I had the chain changed this summer, but I think the bearings too might need to be changed, because there’s a worrying creaky sound on each rotation when I pedal hard.

As for normal, everyday bikes, I had three of them stolen this year, which got me a bit depressed. Apparently I have to keep them in my apartment in order not to have them stolen. But there is only space for one bike here, my Cannondale, so instead I don’t have any everyday bike at all now. And that sucks, to be honest. We’ll see what I’ll do about it.

Last of all, I’m very happy not to have been sick or had any accidents during the year. A cold and an abrasion was all. I’m especially happy that my knees are alright, since they are easily damaged for cyclists, but I try to take care to always warm up before I start pumping hard.

Well, that’s it for the bike year update!

迷宮塔路レガシスタ

迷宮塔路レガシスタ

Opened one of the last games that I bought in Japan: 迷宮塔路レガシスタ (Maze tower road legacy register?!). It’s an RPG reminding a bit of Zelda. The main character is 17-year-old アルト ストレイター (Art Straighter?). But to be honest, I like the idea of games much more than actually playing them. It takes such time!

Who owns your photos?

In fact, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are notorious for subjugation of rights of any image uploaded to their pages: make sure you don’t put anything of value there, and certainly not in full resolution. Even though you can upload full resolution, only a compressed version is displayed to save bandwidth. Ever wonder what happens to the full resolution versions? Think carefully.

—Ming Thein in “Valuing your images and managing copyright and intellectual property”

German Christmas market at Alexanderplatz

Berlin is very dark and boring in December, but the Christmas markets are here to compensate for that. It’s fascinating to see Alexanderplatz turning into a bustling club for this month. Yes, that’s the feeling when they put up a huge bar in the middle of the square and a DJ is playing hits. We had three big glasses of Glühwein each.

P1130916

P1130919

P1130918

Then we took a walk (with our glühweins) to the other side of Alexa, where a moving tivoli settles each Christmas. Lots of people, but no long lines to the attractions.

P1130924

P1130921

P1130933

This is going to sound quite a bit prejudiced, but ever since I was a child I’ve learned that the people who run this kind of traveling tivoli fairs are drunks, usually from some Eastern European country. If they didn’t travel with the fair, they would probably be beggars. Like I said, it’s probably just prejudices, but I always keep in mind that security isn’t their biggest priority. When we saw one of these people passing by, and looking just like a beggar, I told my friend this theory. He said that this was common knowledge, he had had the same view since he was a child. But he meant that this uncertainty regarding the security added to the thrill when going in the otherwise somewhat bleak attractions.

So we started with this one: Voodoo Jumper (5 euro) – the only attraction where we had to wait a bit:

P1130927

It was wonderful, especially with three big glühweins in your body.

P1130942

Passing Break Dance, which I saw in München on the Oktoberfest in 2008:

P1130948

Then we went in this thing (4 euro). It didn’t look as fun as Voodoo Jumper, but since the carriage turned around 360 degrees, your body got a bigger shock and thus it was actually more fun. Note that there is no fence separating the moving attraction from the onlooking people:

P1130960

And here’s the video of Voodoo Jumper and that other thing: